Robert Handa

Man Arrested, Charged with Attempted Murder, Kidnapping in Connection to Day-Long Disappearance of 2-Year-Old Soledad Boy

Jacob Vargas was with his father at his Soledad home when the dad's car was stolen with the boy in it, police said.

A man, located Monday at a farmhouse in rural Monterey County, was arrested on suspicion of abducting and attempting to murder a 2-year-old last week.

Carmen Rogelio Maldonado, 27, was apprehended at about 1:45 p.m. by officers from the Soledad and Gonzalez police departments, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Monterey County District Attorney’s Office, according to a news statement. 

Officers acted on credible information about Maldonado's whereabouts and surrounded the River Road house. They called out to the suspect to surrender and come out and he obeyed within a few minutes. 

Maldonado is accused of kidnapping Jacob Vargas from Monterey County Thursday morning, prompting a state-wide Amber Alert. The boy was reunited with his mother and stepfather late that night after being checked at a local hospital.

Jose Edeza, Jacob's stepfather, said his child was "really full of joy to see" his parents. 

Jacob was with his father, who shares parental custody, at his Soledad home when police said the dad's car was stolen with the boy in it.

The car was in the driveway running, being warmed up and investigators initially said they believe Maldonado did not realize until later that Jacob was inside. It is unclear why he has since been slapped with an attempted murder charge.

More than seven hours later, a passerby who remembered the Amber Alert led police to a shed in rural Gonzales, where Jacob was rescued from the locked stolen car.

"Where the car was found too, it was kind of in the middle of nowhere," said Anastacia Araujo, Jacob's mother. "And he was still buckled in his seat belt. I'm just really grateful somebody found him."

Jacob's family said it wants justice because the so-called inadvertent kidnapping could have turned out much worse.

Maldonado was taken to the Soledad Police Department and will be booked into the Monterey County Jail for attempted murder, kidnapping and auto theft, officials said. 

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